Growing up in church, I became familiar with what it means to serve others and had a very literal example service. I've learned what it looks like to put others first, rather than rushing to do what I want and what I need. Serving others is something we try to teach our kids, our family members, and what we strive to exemplify as part of the church. Involved with a church family or not, we all try to be decent human beings. We try to not cut other people off in traffic. We try to respect others even if we don't understand their viewpoint. And we keep on living.
Every day, we serve others. We listen to and support a hurting friend. We take care of patients and manage classrooms and help our bosses complete tasks in a timely manner or whatever else we usually do throught our busy days. We serve and we serve and we serve.We pour ourselves out for others each and every day.
And serving others is a beautiful thing. It is necessary and it is right to help each other and to put others before ourselves. But what happens when we become so tired, so worn out that we have nothing left to give? What happens when my service becomes fake and inauthentic simply because I'm tired?
I'm sure you've heard this phrase, right?
You cannot serve from an empty cup.
And while that seems like such a simple statement, the Lord has revealed this truth to me again and again and again, especially during this season of my life.
You cannot serve from an empty cup. An empty cup has nothing left to pour out, and must be filled again before it can pour out anything.
If we are not taking the time to go to the Living Water to be filled each day, we are short-changing ourselves and His desire for us. He longs to fill us. He wants to overflow us with His grace and mercy and comfort and whatever else we need for the day ahead.
Learning how to rest is not a selfish act, and does not make us weak.Healing takes place when we are willing to be still, even for just a moment, and rest.
Matthew 11:28-30 from the Message version says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
This verse reads like a breath of fresh air to me! Recovering life. Taking a real rest. Learning unforced rhythms of grace. Nothing heavy or ill-fitting. That sounds nice, doesn't it? It sounds far more restorative than anything I can think of!
The Father longs to live in relationship with us: He wants habitation, not just visitation with us. He wants to be with us. Resting is not weakness. Resting allows us to maintain an "L" connection. This means we reach up to God with all that we are, and reach out to others with all that we have. The "L" connection, which I learned about from a pastor named Stephen Handy, totally shifted my understanding of service. Reaching up to God with all that we are allows us to reach out with all that we have.
Service to others should be out of the overflow that the Father has given us. It is in the giving out of the overflow that we find real joy!
Allow yourself to rest. Allow yourself to be. Take a moment to listen to this song and allow Him to fill you as you take a moment to rest!